Plastic bags have been used for decades, whether it is to carry groceries or wet clothes. At a glance, plastic bags seemed like the best option since paper bags easily tear. However, plastic bags can be harmful to animals and humans. While there are a few benefits to using plastic bags, the negative effects it has on our natural resources, animal life and global warming far exceed those. Oklahoma and other states use many almost non-degradable plastic bags made from natural resources each day.
According to Phil Halton, a Winnipeg biochemist, oil is made into a plastic that resists degradation and is nearly impossible to destroy (“Battle of the Bag” 00:10:50-00:11:48). A significant amount of oil is used to produce plastic bags. That oil would be more beneficial if it was put towards making gasoline or jet fuel. The film, Battle of the Bag: Deconstructing a Consumer Culture Icon, mentions that it takes a plastic bag anywhere from 400 to 1,000 years to disintegrate (“Battle of the Bag” 00:19:00-00:19:10). At this rate, millions of bags would be in landfills, in the ocean, and on the streets before the first plastic bag made disintegrates. The negative effects plastic bags have on animal life is tremendous. For example, my friend and I went fishing at a pond. While we were at the pond, my friend noticed a turtle was inside of a plastic bag. The turtle appeared to be stuck, as it was not moving. We helped the turtle get out of the bag.
If my friend and I had not been at that pond, the turtle could have died. The fact that there is a rescue shelter solely dedicated to helping harmed animals, mainly caused from an encounter with plastic, speaks volumes (“Battle of the Bag” 00:20:29-00:20:50). Oklahoma could save a significant number of animals lives by banning plastic bags. Plastic bags are part of the reason for global warming. According to Swapnil Kale, the carbon dioxide released when burning the plastic causes global warming (Kale et al 952). The more plastic bags are produced and disposed of, the faster global warming is happening. If paper bags or reusable bags were to be burned, they would not produce carbon dioxide. Oklahoma, along with other states, could help reduce the rate at which global warming is happening. Plastic bags are cheaper to produce than the reusable bags that customers have to purchase. Not only are plastic bags harder to tear, but they are also recyclable.
Most of my relatives save the plastic bags they get from buying groceries to reuse for other purposes. These purposes include carrying wet clothes and being a trash bag for road trips. Even though plastic bags are recyclable, there are still landfills full of plastic bags that do not get recycled. Different companies specifically make bags for carrying wet clothes or trash. The number of uses a person could get out of a reusable bag would eventually be cheaper than having to keep making disposable, plastic bags. Oklahoma would be wise to ban plastic bags to cut waste and conserve natural resources. They would also be saving animal’s lives and their habitats. I believe other states would be influenced by the positive results of banning plastic bags. The little benefits plastic bags offer, does not compare to the amount of damage they cause to our environment.